Myths of Underwater Recovery Operations

by Ronald F. Becker

A diver rides a stage to the sea bed from MSC rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp in St. Kitts during Global Fleet Station 2008. Photo by MCCS Andrew McKaskle
A diver rides a stage to the sea bed from MSC rescue and salvage ship USNS Grasp in St. Kitts during Global Fleet Station 2008. Photo by MCCS Andrew McKaskle

As the number of people using recreational waterways increases, so do the number of accidents, drownings, and violent crimes, including homicides, that occur in such settings. This increase coupled with the influx of criminals seeking a watery repository for weapons and other evidence of wrongdoing has caused law enforcement agencies to become more involved in underwater recovery operations. [1]

Historically, fire departments provided personnel trained in search and rescue diving to the police when incidents occurred that required the retrieval of evidence submerged in water. For many years, law enforcement agencies believed that divers required no other special skills to provide this service. Agencies viewed the handling and processing of underwater evidence as nothing more than a salvage operation. Over time, however, law enforcement agencies have begun to raise questions about the wisdom of this belief. What information do they lose in the salvage process? What could investigators infer from measurements, sketches, and photographs, if not at the time of discovery, perhaps later? What parts of the story remain untold because of a failure to properly handle and package evidence, thereby preventing forensic examination? What value is salvaged material if it cannot be entered into evidence because of a failure to connect it with the defendant? These questions demonstrate that all of the resources of the investigator, criminalist, and crime laboratory could be rendered useless if evidence remains undiscovered, ignored, or contaminated. [2]

The concept of the underwater recovery of evidence as nothing more than a salvage operation represents a major myth that surrounds this process. While some law enforcement agencies have relegated this myth to the past, many still maintain this view. By doing so, these agencies also cling to other myths, or misconceptions, about the underwater recovery of evidence. These include the ultimate objective and composition of the dive recovery team, the forensic value of submerged evidence, the assumptions concerning accidents, and the ability to locate submerged items geographically. [3]


Ultimate Objective

Myth: The dive recovery team's ultimate objective is to recover a submerged item. If agencies continue to view this process as a salvage operation, then they will conclude that the ultimate objective of dive teams is to find and recover the item sought and return it safely. Both represent admirable objectives but remain shortsighted and a product of traditional law enforcement policy, practice, and perspective. However, convicting criminals of the unlawful acts they commit (simplistic but fundamental to scientific processing of an underwater crime scene) represents the true objective of a dive recovery team.


Myth: The dive team is made up of a primary diver, safety diver, line tender, on-scene commander, and others involved solely in the recovery process. Embracing the former myth gives rise to this one. However, when agencies recognize that winning convictions constitutes the primary objective of dive recovery teams, they realize that first responders, investigators, crime laboratory personnel, and prosecutors are dive recovery team players as well.

Although generally seen as an unimportant element, first responding officers set the tenor of underwater investigations. These officers have the responsibility of ensuring crime scene integrity and witness identification, segregation, and initial interviews; barring access by all unauthorized personnel, including the media, medical personnel, and curious bystanders; and recognizing the potential location of all forensic evidence, including routes of entry and exit, and protecting these sites. Because these officers play a pivotal role in underwater investigations, agencies should train them in the fundamentals of processing an underwater crime scene, including exactly what they must protect, and provide them with descriptions of other team members' roles.

Often, investigators, crime laboratory personnel, and prosecutors also lack an understanding of the scientific approach to processing an underwater crime scene. For example, if only divers realize that submerged evidence has as much forensic value as evidence found on land, then investigators may fail to understand the crucial steps that divers must take to preserve not only the items recovered but the need to collect water and samples of the bottom and surrounding areas as a control for laboratory analysis. Applying the concept of background contamination to underwater evidence collection demonstrates how bottom samples can allow laboratory personnel to exclude the background as the source from which any trace evidence might have originated.


Japanese poster for Lady in Cement, 1968
Japanese poster for Lady in Cement, 1968

Forensic Value

Myth: All submerged evidence is bereft of forensic value. Often, water serves as a preservative for forensic evidence that becomes lost only as a result of the recovery method employed, that is, salvaging. For example, in the true account of a modern murder mystery, a serologist determined that a blood specimen that was submerged for 3 years in salt water was human blood. [4] Also, investigators found fiber evidence on the body of a murder victim even though the perpetrator had disposed of the body in a river. [5] Therefore, while most submerged evidence possesses potential forensic value, all too often, investigators unknowingly overlook, contaminate, or destroy this evidence during the recovery process.

Firearm Recovery

Myth: All submerged firearms are bereft of forensic value. Firearms constitute the most neglected evidentiary item recovered from water. A variety of places exist on a firearm that may retain forensic material. For example, fingerprints often remain on protected surfaces, especially on lubricated areas, such as the magazine of a semiautomatic pistol or the shell casing of the rounds in the magazine from the individual's thumb that pushed it into the magazine. Also, if the perpetrator carried the weapon in a pocket, under an automobile seat, or in a glove compartment, the firearm could retain a variety of fibers on its sharp edges, especially on sights and magazine levers. Finally, weapons used in contact wounds may have "barrel blowback" (e.g., blood, tissue, bone, hair, or fabric) stored in the barrel of the firearm. [6] When deposited in water, a weapon primarily fills through the barrel. The water serves as a block for any material deposited inside the barrel. The material resides there until a pressure d ifferential (i.e., raising it to the surface) releases the water in the barrel.

Unfortunately, such critical evidence frequently is lost due to traditional recovery methods, expedience, and ignorance. If divers hold recovered firearms by the barrel and raise them over their heads as they surface, they drain the contents of the weapons and lose potentially crucial evidence. To avoid this, divers should package weapons in water, while in the water, and obtain a bottom sample to ensure that any fibers or other material found on the weapons are not the product of immersion.

Vehicle Recovery

Myth: Submerged vehicles are simply stolen. To resolve this myth, investigators should consider two questions. Are all stolen vehicles immediately reported as stolen? Are all crime vehicles immediately reported as having been used in a crime? Most investigators realize that they should consider all stolen submerged vehicles as crime vehicles (i.e., stolen for use in the commission of another crime) until proven otherwise. In doing so, they can understand that the conventional recovery method (towing by the axle) seriously alters, contaminates, or destroys any evidence. What should they do instead?

Before instituting the recovery of a submerged vehicle, investigators should catalog any information that may later become important but which the recovery method may alter or destroy. Divers can conduct this cataloging process by compiling a "swim around" checklist. Divers can complete this checklist even in the worst water conditions through touch alone or other means, such as recording the vehicle identification number and license number by using a water bath (i.e., a clear plastic bag filled with water). By pressing the water-filled bag against the license plate and their masks to the other side, divers get a clear medium through which they can see the information; a camera can take a picture using the same process. [7] The "swim around" allows divers to record the location of any occupants of the vehicle; the condition of the windshield, windows, headlights, and taillights; and the contents of the glove compartment. It also helps divers determine if the keys were in the ignition and if the accelerator w as blocked. This information can prove essential during the subsequent investigation of the incident.


Tina Watson lying on the seafloor and an instructor going to her rescue obscured by an unidentified diver. Photo by Gary Stempler
Tina Watson lying on the seafloor and an instructor going to her rescue obscured by an unidentified diver. Photo by Gary Stempler


Myth: All drownings are presumed accidents. Experienced homicide investigators generally presume that all unattended deaths are murders until proven otherwise, except when they occur in the water. Many investigators have participated in the recovery of a presumed accidental drowning victim only to have some serious subsequent misgivings as to the mechanism of death. Therefore, investigators should employ the same investigatory protocol afforded deaths on land to deaths on or in the water.

By correctly processing the bodies of drowning victims, investigators can obtain a variety of forensic evidence. For example, divers should place bodies in body bags to avoid losing transient evidence, such as hair or fibers, and to ensure that any injuries that occur during the recovery process are not mistaken for wounds inflicted before death. Bagging bodies in the water reveals damage to the body bags that corresponds to injuries to the bodies that may occur during the recovery process.

Bagging bodies in the water also keeps the clothing intact. For example, shoes can contain dirt, gravel, or other debris from a prior crime scene, which may prove valuable to investigators and laboratory personnel. Because shoes become lost easily, divers should bag feet, with the shoes intact, to prevent loss and possible contamination during the recovery operation or subsequent transportation of the body to the medical examiner's office.

Aircraft Crashes

Myth: All air disasters are presumed accidents. This myth coexists with another one: Air crash disasters happen somewhere else. Aircraft crashes can and do occur in every part of the world. Moreover, because most of the world is covered in water, many aircraft crashes occur in the water. Also, for every large commercial airliner that crashes into water (or on land), several hundred airplanes, with a seating capacity of less than 10, crash into oceans, lakes, and rivers. [8] With this in mind, jurisdictions with any type of body of water within its boundaries can recognize that they may have to conduct an underwater recovery of an aircraft. If they assume that such incidents always are accidents, they may overlook, contaminate, or destroy critical evidence that may indicate that the crash resulted from criminal intervention.

Investigators also must understand the purpose of the recovery operation in aircraft crashes. To identify passengers and to determine what caused the crash constitute the two primary purposes. However, investigators must remember that when an aircraft crashes, even in water, it generally becomes a mass of twisted, convoluted, and shredded metal, and the occupants usually have sustained massive, often disfiguring, fatal injuries. [9] Conducting underwater recoveries of such incidents requires the establishment of contingency plans before an aircraft disaster occurs. In addition, divers involved in the underwater recovery of aircraft and the victims involved in such disasters must have the necessary training and equipment to effectively carry out the operation.

A diver explores the wreckage of a Japanese World War II fighter plane near the town of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Photo by David Doubilet, National Geographic
A diver explores the wreckage of a Japanese World War II fighter plane near the town of Rabaul in Papua New Guinea. Photo by David Doubilet, National Geographic


Myth: It is not necessary or possible to locate submerged items geographically. This myth has evolved because most underwater recovery operations occur in conditions of limited visibility. However, divers can find a 2,000-year-old submerged vessel; sketch the area where they found it; recover, label, and measure all of the pieces in relation to each other; reconstruct the vessel on land; and tell by the placement of the cargo in the hold what ports the vessel visited and in what order it visited them. [10] The techniques exist if the need does.

Situations where dive recovery teams need to employ such techniques could include an accident reconstruction where one vehicle came to rest in the water. The position of the vehicle would reveal the direction of travel as well as the approximate speed on impact. In a weapon recovery, the position of the weapon in the water may determine its relevance. If divers discover a weapon 500 yards from where a witness places the individual disposing of the weapon, some serious questions could arise about the case.

Investigators must understand the importance of properly marking and recording the location of the recovery site. Failure to do so may result in the--

  • * loss of the site, in the event that more than one dive is necessary, and considerable expense in time and effort in relocating the site and the evidence at the site;
  • * inability to orient parts of a dismantled motor vehicle, vessel, or airplane, or dismembered body; or
  • * evidence subsequently being rendered inadmissible at the time of trial. [11]


For decades, many law enforcement agencies have viewed underwater recovery operations as nothing more than retrieving submerged items. In the past few years, however, the increasing number of such cases has caused some agencies to take a closer look at this idea. They have encountered several myths, or misconceptions, that have demonstrated the need for on-scene investigators to understand the complexities associated with the underwater recovery process and to no longer view it as a salvage operation.

Dispelling these myths have led agencies to appreciate the forensic value of submerged evidence, the importance of establishing contingency plans for aircraft crashes, and the effectiveness of highly skilled underwater recovery dive teams in solving crimes. Law enforcement agencies must encourage their officers to see the benefits of exploring new methods of investigating underwater crime scenes and not rely solely on past policies and procedures.


  1. Ronald F. Becker, The Underwater Crime Scene (Springfield, IL: Charles C. Thomas, 1995), 4.
  2. Ibid, 5, 119.
  3. The author uses these myths as the focus of the training be conducts at the Southwest Texas State University, Criminal Justice Department, Underwater Institute.
  4. Vincent Bugliosi, And the Sea Will Tell (New York: Ivy Books, 1992), 279.
  5. Harold A. Deadman, "Fiber Evidence and the Wayne Williams Trial," FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin, May 1984, 10-19.
  6. W.U. Spitz, Medicolegal Investigation of Death, 3d. ed. (Springfield, IL: Charles Thomas, 1993), 319.
  7. Based on the author's personal experience.
  8. Robert G. Teather, Encyclopedia of Underwater Investigations (Flagstaff, AZ: Best Publishing, 1994), 117.
  9. Ibid.
  10. Supra note 1, 3.
  11. Supra note 1, 41.

BUD/S (Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL)


Navy SEAL trainees undergoing drownproofing training. Photo: U.S. Navy
Navy SEAL trainees undergoing drownproofing training. Photo: U.S. Navy

BUD/S is a 6-month SEAL training course held at the Naval Special Warfare Training Center in Coronado, CA. You'll start with five weeks Indoctrination and Pre-Training as part of a Navy SEAL Class, then go through the Three Phases of BUD/S. First Phase is the toughest. It consists of 8 weeks of Basic Conditioning that peaks with a grueling segment called "Hell Week" at the midway point, where you'll be tested to your limits.

Hell Week is a test of physical endurance, mental tenacity and true teamwork where 2/3 or more of your class may call it quits or "ring the bell ". Physical discomfort and pain will cause many to decide it isn't worth it. The miserable wet-cold approaching hypothermia will make others quit. Sheer fatigue and sleep deprivation will cause every candidate to question his core values, motivations, limits, and everything he's made of and stands for. Those who grit it out to the finish will hear their Instructors yell the longed-for words, "Hell Week is secured!"

There will be an exceptional few with burning desire who persevere when their bodies are screaming to quit, yet continue on. These men experience a tremendous sense of pride, achievement, brotherhood and a new self-awareness that, "I can do anything!!" The most outstanding among them -- that man whose sheer force of example inspires his classmates to keep going when they're ready to quit – is the "Honor Man" of the Class.

These determined men will proceed on to Second Phase (8 weeks of Diving) and Third Phase (9 weeks of Land Warfare). Most men who have succeeded in Hell Week make it through these phases. If not, it's usually due to academic issues (e.g., dive physics) in the Dive Phase, or weapons and demolitions safety/competency issues in the Land Warfare (weapons and tactics) Phase. After BUDS is completed, trainees go through 3 weeks of Basic Parachute Training.

At this point, training shifts from testing how the men react in a high-stress "gut check" environment, to making sure the trainees are competent in their core tasks. The men go through a final 8 weeks of focused SEAL Qualification Training in mission planning, operations, and tactic, techniques and procedures. Upon completion, they are authorized to wear the coveted Navy SEAL Trident insignia on their uniform.

SEAL training ends with the formal BUD/S Class Graduation. Here the proud few in their dress Navy uniforms are recognized for their achievement in the presence of family and senior SEAL leaders. The Commanding Officers and senior enlisted advisors of the Naval Special Warfare Groups and SEAL Teams attend. The BUD/S graduates, as their newest Teammates, will be reminded of the special group they have entered, to be worthy of the sacrifices of the courageous Frogmen who came before them, and the great honor it is to serve as a U.S. Navy SEAL.

BUD/S Phases

Phase 1 - Physical Conditioning (8 weeks)

  • Running in the sand
  • Swimming – up to 2 miles w/fins in the ocean
  • Calisthenics
  • Timed Obstacle Course
  • Four-mile timed runs in boots
  • Small boat seamanship
  • Hydrographic surveys and creating charts
  • Hell Week – Week 4 of Phase 1
  • 5 ½ days of continuous training
  • Four hours sleep, total
  • Swimming
  • Running
  • Enduring cold, wet, and exhaustion
  • Rock Portage in Rubber Raiding Craft
  • Doing 10 times what you thought possible

Phase 2 - Diving (8 weeks)

  • Step up intensity of the physical training
  • Focus on Combat Diving
  • Open-Circuit (compressed air) SCUBA
  • Closed-Circuit (100% oxygen) SCUBA
  • Long-distance underwater dives
  • Mission-focused combat swimming and diving techniques

Phase 3 - Land Warfare (9 weeks)

  • Increasingly strenuous physical training
  • Weapons training
  • Demolitions (military explosives)
  • Small unit tactics
  • Patrolling techniques
  • Rappelling and fast rope operations
  • Marksmanship

Paranormal Divers


Guillaume Nery base jumps into Deans' Blue Hole

Who We Are and What We Do

We are adventurers, scientists, and visionaries, all united under one common goal, the search for the unknown.

With a logistical and support staff numbering nearly one hundred, we field an elite team of specialty and technical divers who perform unique underwater missions in some of the most dangerous and inaccessible places on earth.

Comprised of seven separate inter-disciplinary divisions, our organizational goal is to discover the truth behind legend, and to further our understanding of things that have yet to be explained.

We boast a staff comprised of personnel with a wide range of technical and educational backgrounds, from military special-ops to forensic odentology.

Each mission that we conduct has it's own unique focus. Often times we deploy in search of unexplained or cryptozoologic phenomena, and other times we search for the ghosts of the past through the use of forensic, archaeological, and other scientific practices.

Prior to being deployed, be it on land or at sea, our teams are fueled by input from our historical division, which travels abroad gathering information pertinent to each mission. These history gathering teams are a vital link between ourselves and the truth, and whenever possible, we favor live person-to-person interviews over the written misinterpretations of those who may have come before us.

Once deployed, our teams utilize specialized equipment which is proprietary to our special-teams needs. By utilizing the technology developed by our parent corporation over the years, we've been able to make gigantic strides in understanding the secrets of the deep. Moreover, we've unlocked fantastic clues as to the origin of paranormal phenomena beneath the water's surface, and now have a fair understanding of the dynamic which allows previously unexplained phenomena to manifest itself.

Below is an over-view of our seven specialized divisions. Familiarizing yourself with these separate disciplines will help you further understand our organizational goal and make navigating our website much easier.

The seven specialized sub-divisions are as follows:

  • Underwater Operations
  • Medical/ Rescue Operations
  • Maritime Archaeology
  • Paleontology
  • Underwater Photography/ Videography
  • Forensic Recovery
  • Historical Research

What we do is quite complex, but it's also a heck of a lot of fun. If it weren't for the loyalty and comraderie of our divers and support staff none of this would ever have been made possible. As you navigate throughout our site, please visit the links to the divers themselves and be sure to visit their linked fan-pages as well. We're a fun-loving, close-knit family and would love to hear from you!

Btw - one of the most often asked questions we receive is the following:

Do you hunt ghosts on land??
The answer is simple. Of course we do!!!!

We're a division of the Ghost Pros Corporation, one of the largest land based ghost hunting corporations on earth! So yeah, we hunt ghosts!!!

Underwater Hockey

by Joe Kissell, from, March 20, 2005

Underwater hockey match

A breathtakingly unusual sport

When I tell people I don't care much for sports, their reaction is usually one of deep puzzlement, if not outright disbelief. I'll be quizzed on whether it's some particular sport I don't like. No—I don't like any of them. I'll be asked if it's specifically overcommercialized professional sports I object to. No—pro sports are no lower on my list of favorite things than Wiffle Ball. In a last-ditch effort to cut me some slack, someone will wonder whether it's just participation in sports, as opposed to spectator sports, that bothers me. Again, no—I feel equal indifference toward pro basketball on TV and a pick-up game in the park. I'm just not—forgive me—a sports kind of guy.

That said, I do admit to some inconsistencies in what has been a lifelong practice of shunning sports. For example, I was once on a beach volleyball kick—going so far as to take a few lessons from a pro. (They didn't go very well; I lacked finesse.) I also enjoy bowling on occasion, and find some of the flashier Olympic sports like figure skating quite entertaining to watch. I once had a professor who urged me to select a graduate school based on their water polo program. I didn't, but it was tempting. And I lived in Canada for a few years, where I became familiar—to the point of tacit acceptance—with the national passion for two major ice sports: curling and hockey.

A Deep Subject

I was quite accustomed to hearing about hockey every morning on the radio as I drove to work, but one day I heard a story that I assumed must be a joke: They were talking about underwater hockey. I listened with disbelief, until I finally figured out that this was a legitimate—if highly strange—sport. And that interests me. I may not ever watch, or participate in, underwater hockey, but its mere existence fascinates me.

Unlike water polo, in which the action takes place above water, underwater hockey is played on the bottom of the pool. Players wear masks, fins, and snorkels, and dive down to about 8 feet (2.5m), where they slide a heavily weighted puck around using short, curved sticks. As in ice hockey, the general objective is for each six-player team to get the puck past the opposing team into a goal. The specifics, however, are different. The goals are 9 feet (3m) wide but only 8 inches (20cm) high, and untended. There's no checking—it's a non-contact sport. And a player can leave the pool at any time during the game to be replaced by one of four substitutes. A complete game consists of two fifteen-minute halves, with a two-minute halftime when the teams switch sides.

Two underwater hockey players struggle for pocession of the puck

The Ups and Downs

The pace of play is the most distinctive aspect of underwater hockey, because players have to resurface frequently to breathe. Compared to the perpetual motion and lightning speeds of ice hockey, underwater hockey play seems quite slow and intermittent. But it's an extremely demanding sport: the physical exertion of swimming underwater and pushing around a heavy puck is compounded by the challenge of holding your breath. The repeated diving and surfacing also gives underwater hockey a three-dimensional aspect, making the environment that much different from the flat surface of a rink.

Underwater hockey was invented by a British diving club in 1954 under the unassuming name "Octopush." Over time, both the rules and the name evolved, and the sport eventually spread to dozens of countries in North and South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia. For some reason, no local club has yet emerged in Antarctica.

Enthusiasts of underwater hockey are quick to point out that it's not much of a spectator sport. Fans outside the pool can see little but splashing and fins, and the sport doesn't get much TV coverage. But the fact that you have to be playing the game to appreciate it gives underwater hockey a kind of purity and authenticity you won't find in any other sport. People participate for the exercise, for the challenge, and for the competition—but most of all just to have fun.

Hector and the Squid

by Brian Gates

A couple of kids jabbing at the giant squid to see if it's alive. Photo by John Patz
A couple of kids jabbing at the giant squid to see if it's alive. Photo by John Patz

Hector opened the door and there was a squid right there. It was lying on the floor about eight feet away in the middle of the room, in perfect profile almost, half on/half off the rug. The squid had a long conic head ending in a point, long red tentacles, just like on TV. Hector didn't know how to react. Their eyes met in an unblinking stare, Hector's brown and weary, the squid's ovular and twelve inches across. The squid's tentacles were slowly rubbing against the others, undulating like the waves of the sea from which it came, calmly. Pads at the ends of two of its arms slowly tensed and relaxed, like hands gently closing and opening. It lay in profile staring at Hector standing at the door with one huge eye in a puddle of clear, viscous liquid. Hector came to himself after a moment and quickly shot a glance back down the hallway in a panic, but also as if he was embarrassed, too, I think, like maybe it was his fault that this particular cephalopod was right there on his floor, but I could just be imagining that, putting myself in his shoes. Not imagining that I was there instead of Hector and experiencing this situation instead of him as my own person with my own ego, beliefs, desires, etc., but really imagining that I was Hector, or at least peering inside his head, as I'd known him quite well by that point and could understand how he'd react to all this. All of which is unnecessary for this story for the most part. Except for the part about Hector being a bit embarrassed, which he probably was. Hector stood on the threshold, looking at the squid but avoiding it's looming eye, or at least focusing on the milky white outer part, also keeping in mind to avoid it's flexing tentacles as well, instead vaguely concentrating on its long pointed head. Still out of it, and because he wasn't sure what else to do, he slowly stepped in and closed the door behind him.

The door squealed and shut behind him but the squid didn't move. They were alone now with the sounds of the city floating in through the fourth story window and the scent of the sea wafting off the squid, a pungent smell that Hector noticed only upon closing the door. He had half thought the squid was some animatronic but the smell was too genuine, smelling like only something that has spent years soaking up the sea could smell. So it was a real squid. Hector wasn't sure whether he felt like crying or laughing, but he was too tired for either as he had worked all day since early morning with no break or food, and all he'd wanted was to come home, eat the curry that he'd brought home in the plastic bag he had and sleep until Saturday. The squid seriously derailed those plans. The rug was probably ruined and the coffee table was askew, but it looked like that's as far as the squid had gotten, the middle of the room. Hector wasn't scared so much as disbelieving and he still wasn't totally sure this wasn't a practical joke, which he was really hoping it was. Hector still didn't move. He watched the squid for a minute or two, waiting for it to blink but it didn't. Out of reflex, Hector carefully took his phone out of his pocket and pressed the button for Carmen.

"Carmen, there is a squid in my apartment," dramatically.

"That's great, Hector,"

"There is a big, big squid and it's on the floor." Hector was always being dramatic.

"Well don't eat it if it's been on the floor. Why did you call me?"

"Because there is a squid -"

"Seriously, Hector?," wearily, and there was noise behind here, too, as if she were out and about and didn't have time for his calls. "Okay, tell me all about it."

"There is a squid that is bigger than my sofa laying on my floor looking at me. Its tentacles are as thick as my thighs and there is a clicking sound coming from it. I don't know how it got in but it is just staring at me."

But Carmen had hung up before he said any of that last stuff. This conversation was probably one of those things where you had to be there. The humor, of which both it's participants would have been angelically oblivious, begins with the tone of Hector's voice, which was both breathlessly wheezy, and suspicion-filled, and in his whisper, which contrasted with Carmen's deadpan, half-not-there retorts. Actually, it should also be noted that Hector and Carmen were speaking Spanish because Hector's English was horrid and Carmen was trying to improve her Spanish anyway. This is important because "squid" in Spanish is simply "calamar" which sounds basically like the food that we all know as "calamari", which is squid, especially with Hector's whispering (standard, for dramatic effect), and unusual wheezing ("hay un calamar…wheeee,… en mi… heeee… apartamento "), combined with Carmen's not-great speaking Spanish and innate impatience, all of which makes Carmen's confusion to Hector's phone call make more sense, or rather make sense period. It would also really help to have the entire and really quite unlikely history of Hector and Carmen's relationship and repartee over the two decades previous to make the conversation really, really funny, but since you already weren't there and you already don't speak Spanish, there's really no point in getting into that.

The squid still hadn't blinked. Hector glanced around the apartment, looking for clues, a sign, whatever. Nothing new. The window was open at the far end of the studio between his bed and computer, too small for a squid of this size to get into, plus it was the fourth floor. So the squid had crawled out of the sea like it's ancestors 200 million years ago, crawled the half mile up the street to his apartment building, opened up the downstairs door, or had someone hold the door open for it, crawled/grappled up three flights of stairs, opened Hector's door, came into his apartment, closed the door, locked the lock, made it about eight feet into the middle of the room to lie right there without blinking. Just what was the endgame here?

It was probably just as well that Carmen hadn't understood Hector and didn't come over because she probably would have just sat there staring at it as well, not knowing what to do or even think. Neither Carmen nor Hector were very practical. Although at that moment Hector did wonder how the squid was surviving just laying there not being in water, but in his apartment four stories above street level. Was this even possible? And if it wasn't possible, would that really offer any comfort? Hector wished he could go on the internet with his phone so he could get some facts and start thinking constructively about the situation without having to walk over to the computer and risk the squid's potential ire, but he didn't have one of those phones. He just had an old-fashioned phone that called people and took crappy pictures. Hector thought he should take a picture of the squid as proof but he had never learned how to use the camera on his phone. He actually hadn't even wanted a phone that could take crappy pictures that were always too dark or too blown out, but when he signed his new contract he was offered a free phone and all the free phones took pictures unlike his previous one, so he chose this new phone even though he didn't really want it or need it but since it was free he felt it was more like an ethical decision that was required of him to make. Whether or not it was rational to take something that he didn't want but that was free was the type of thought Hector would agonize over when he thought about his new phone. He'd even mentioned this agony to Carmen briefly before she got really annoyed with the topic, which was pretty quickly. And I mean, it was free to him, but there was still some serious cost involved, from the precious metals making up the phone's cpu, to its absolutely non-biodegradable plastic housing, to the exploitation (depending on your politics) of the Chinese factory workers, all the way to the shipping from the phone company to him, which actually was not free for him, and the increased chances for getting brain cancer, plus there was still his old phone which worked perfectly well. Not to mention the fact that the additional monthly fees that were not clearly stated when he entered into his binding contract probably paid for the phone in like three or four months anyway.

The squid blinked. That put Hector into action mode. Hector's computer was directly to his right, along the same wall as his front door, in the corner. He couldn't tell exactly how far the squid's tentacles could reach because they were all wrapped around each other, but he reasoned he wasn't getting that much closer to the squid by sidling over to his computer, so he started slowly inching along the wall towards the desk. His hands were at his side, one palm against the wall, the other with his dinner in the plastic bag. He felt like a cat burglar. Slowly he inched sidewise, keeping both eyes on the squid at all times, locked in the gaze of its huge eye that he could not turn away from. He bumped into the desk with his hip and jumped in surprise and cursed. The squid didn't react at all though, it's two long tentacles still wrapped around each other. Hector slowly sat at his computer while watching the squid. He backed into the chair sideways and automatically placed his left hand on the desktop and clicked the mouse. The screen came on and he thanked god that he'd left his computer on sleep so his customized powering-up tone, the intro to Beethoven's 5th, didn't go off. He placed his dinner in its plastic bag on the desk, opened up Explorer and googled "squid," in quotation marks. Still facing the squid, he glanced over to the screen and opened up a tab of squid images and the wikipedia page. He really just wanted to know what to expect from the squid and how scared of it he should be and maybe how to handle this situation. And of course to see if was really possible that it could be lying here, alive in his apartment messing up his rug.

First he looked at the thumbnail images and quickly gleaned that it's two tentacles with pads were a lot longer than the others. One quick glance back at the squid verified this. Hector scrolled down a bit and there was even one picture of an etching from the old days of a squid tearing a ship apart with those two longer tentacles. The other tentacles were shorter and looked as if they were sharp in the pictures but here in real life they looked sort of floppy, but still probably dangerous. On the wiki page he scrolled through quickly, only picking up little bits of info while keeping his eye on the squid. It said that squids had relatively high intelligence among invertebrates, which he guessed got him a step closer to clearing the mystery of its being his apartment. That the smaller tentacles are actually referred to as "arms", the descriptor "tentacle" being reserved for either of the two long ones with pads that wouldn't stop opening and closing. There was a beak for a mouth somewhere in the midst of all that. The giant squid can reach 43 feet in length. There was nothing about squids on land. The sound of a pigeon flapping its wings distantly reached Hector's consciousness and just as it did the squid's two tentacles shot out right past Hector's head and crashed through the screen in his window. He turned quickly and saw the top of his window screen disappear down to the street. He heard the pigeon flap away and after a moment of tracing the boundaries of the window, the tentacles shot back to the squid. Hector's heart was racing. Carmen suddenly popped up on his messenger list with a bing. He quickly typed her, "the squid just tried to kill a bird!!!" She signed off. He looked back at the squid, hardly breathing. The squid's tentacles were wrapped around themselves as before, like nothing happened. However, Hector now thought the squids eyes were focused on the window, not himself, but he couldn't be sure. Then Hector wondered if the squid had been looking out the window the entire time and maybe even never really noticed him? Regardless, after seeing the power and reach of the squid's tentacles he knew he had to play it real cool but he wasn't sure how to do that exactly. He was already just sitting there hardly moving so he decided to remain frozen. He had skimmed the part about the squid having gills, so it shouldn't be alive should it? Unless there was some secret water source he was unaware of? Hector was often open to the least likely of possibilities.

How long can this go on? Hector thought after hours had passed. He quickly glanced at his computer screen and saw that it had only been seven minutes. Hector's day had begun at 4:30 AM and been filled with strenuous labor. He had finally come home tonight with his Indian food and was completely wiped and near starving with hunger. He had to eat. He tried not to move but eventually had to slowly turn the seat under him away from the desk to face the squid so he could at least sit back a bit while remaining vigilant. He had considered sidling back to the door and letting himself out but there was nowhere nearby he could sleep and Carmen was probably on her way to work by then and probably wouldn't have let him crash there anyway. His hunger, which had become overwhelming, also affected his decision – why should he go out if he had perfectly fine food right in front of him? Plus he sort of wanted to see this whole thing through.

Hector swore that he realized the squid could easily grapple onto him, after seeing what it had done to his window, about a split second before it actually did. So there he was, after quietly opening up the plastic bag and quietly opening up the Styrofoam with his chicken jalfreezi and rice and quietly opening up the aluminum foil around his roti and quietly opening the plastic that held the plastic fork and knife and napkin, quietly eating his curry. The first medium-spicy bite rejuvenated him after his long day, he felt alive. By the second mouthful he was starting to think clearly and calmly, something he then realized he hadn't done since opening the door to his apartment after his long, tiring day. So it was with a shock then that he froze with a mouthful of curry and realized he was easily within grappling distance. He was grappled before this thought was finished. He had been looking at the squid but never even saw it move, just suddenly one of the tentacles was wrapped around his right calf and the leg of the chair and he was pulled with a thrust towards the clicking, squirming squid, as if he and the chair weighed nothing. But as quickly as it had started, the squid stopped, after dragging him only about a foot and a half. Hector sat rigid, eyes wide open, eating his mouthful of curry and roti. Hector wondered if the noise was what made the squid pause, the hair-cringing screech of the chair along the hardwood floor. Hector swallowed his food and neither he nor the squid moved after that, their eyes again locked across the ether. Man versus beast. Stalemate.

Hector was close enough to the squid for its shorter arms to almost touch him. He could kick the squid with his free leg if he had to, but he was hoping it wouldn't come to that. They both sat frozen like this for a while. Hector couldn't turn his head to check the time on the computer screen and he'd left his phone on the desk too so he wasn't sure how much time was passing. Hector knew he couldn't reach back to get the rest of his food, but the two mouthfuls he had really helped. He loved leftover Indian so he had something to look forward to at least. Hector studied the squid anew, but didn't find much else to comment on. He flexed the calf being held by the tentacle and the tentacle squeezed back, but not too hard, just firm enough to send a message. He hoped another pigeon would fly by the window, or better yet right into the apartment, to distract the squid. The squid's free tentacle was just lying there, flat out along the rug, reaching the wall he thought, without being able to turn around and visually verify this. He didn't know why the squid didn't grab him with both tentacles, but figured the free one was the one he'd really have to watch out for from this point on. He hoped he wouldn't get an itch on his right foot or calf. He was still really hungry, he realized, and then he fell asleep.

Hector awoke and the squid wasn't there. It was morning. The window was still open only halfway and the door was closed with the lock still locked. Hector could see that from here, sitting in the chair. It wasn't that the squid being right there was a dream Hector had or anything. There was still about a ton of slime all over the floor and the rug, and the coffee table was slightly askew. He pulled up his right pant leg to reveal his calf and shin completely black and blue. Also, later that day his apartment building was abuzz; the kids downstairs told him that they saw a squid leaving through the front door. A crowd had even gathered behind the squid as it crawled down the cobbled street until it reached the pier four blocks away, carefully navigating the artificial shoreline and disappearing into the great blue. It even made the evening news. The neighbors told him they noticed that the slime seemed to have originated from his floor, although it wasn't clear from which room. All these points you are going to have to take my word on because this story is going to end almost right after Hector awoke to find a squid-free apartment. Also, it should be noted that when his neighbors told him of the squid, Hector acted surprised and didn't say anything about the squid being right there in his apartment for at least 12 hours, much less his stressful encounter with it. I probably shouldn't have even gotten into what happens later that day but I thought it would give some closure to the whole situation that describing Hector's immediate reaction to the squid no longer being there just wouldn't. Basically, after waking up to a squid-free apartment, Hector looked around the room, the closet, and bathroom to be safe. He then took off his shoes and socks wet with slime, laid in bed, texted Carmen that he'd see her later tonight after all and fell back asleep. See? That's not that interesting and the message to Carmen kind of meaningless without a whole lot of back story, which I could have thrown in, but to do it justice it would have taken me probably 150 pages at least and I just really wanted to talk about the one time there was a squid in Hector's apartment. At any rate, you have that bit of satisfaction about the neighbors and the squid on the pier and Hector pretending he didn't know anything about it, right? Classic Hector. I still miss him sometimes. We all do.

Gaint squid drying in the sun on boat deck with a man and woman lying besides it

Fathom Magazine


Fathom magazine issue 9 cover
A swimming pool shot taken to advertise Sea Jade (a skin perfume). A different model was featured in the TV commercial, by J.Harding

Fathom was a marine diving magazine published by Gareth Powell & Associates in Australia. It is considered to have played an important role in raising international awareness of the status of Australian marine life, especially sharks with underwater photography, and established new standards in terms of quality, content, design and accurate marine journalism at a time when most was being sensationalized in the popular press.

It was said to be better designed and printed than the leading USA publication, Skin Diver.

"Fathom magazine was a perfect fit for its time. The 48-page publication first appeared in Sydney December 1970, produced by Gareth Powell, an eccentric, entrepreneurial British publisher who knew, above anything else, how to employ talented people and give them the freedom to work. Fathom quickly came to reflect the new scuba diving and marine environmental awareness inspired by the Save the Barrier Reef campaign, and the crown-of-thorns starfish plagues threatening coral reefs world wide".

Gareth Powell has been quoted as saying the title Fathom was one of three suggested by editor, John Harding who had canvassed the idea of publishing a dive magazine to him on three occasions. The design was similar to Surf International which was soon to cease production.

A major influence on the style of the magazine was the designer, Roy Bisson. In Fathom the freelance contributing photographers and marine journalists were among the best that Australia had produced and included Ron and Valerie Taylor, Neville Coleman, Walter Starck, Richard Ibara and John Harding. The art director (an accomplished diver) had full responsibility to choose the photographs used and to decide how they should be displayed. No other magazine company in Australia, at that time, allowed this level of involvement by their creative staff. The only person who was kept well away from the creative process was the publisher, Gareth Powell. He knew printing – and Fathom was to set new standards for the international diving world, attracting attention from many experts in this field, including the aloof Philippe Cousteau who granted an exclusive and rare interview during his Australian visit. The editorial content of the magazine was under the control of John Harding (a photojournalist and underwater film cameraman) and Roy Bisson.

It was the responsibility of Harding & Bisson to devise stories, write, photograph and sell advertising and assemble all pictures rather than rely on haphazard contributions. Dive shops were initially reluctant to advertise until issue number six.

1971 was the beginning of PADI scuba schools being available to Australian dive shops.

In early 1973 the magazine ceased production with issue ten and before completion of a proposed "Annual". Various reason contributed to the closure despite a rapidly rising circulation in Australia and USA. A plan to publish Fathom Yearbook much later was actively supported by all former advertisers.

The magazine was printed in Hong Kong and Singapore to obtain better quality than anything available in Australia. will feature pages from all issues with hindsight captions and updates. Copyright applies. Links to other sites permitted.

Seems a pretty fair summary of the situation. The great truth is that I was kept well away from the editorial and the design. And the photography. This was a policy pursued on all the magazines I was associated with. In this case it was particularly appropriate in that I could not skin dive.

What is not mentioned is that John Harding ethically fought for the right to refuse anything to do with spear guns and underwater carnage. He may have been slightly before his time in this but he was absolutely in the right.

- Gareth Powell

Commented on August 28, 2009

Fathom magazine issue two, contents page Fathom magazine page featuring red jellyfish Clovelly diver's service ad from Fathom magazine Valerie Taylor holding a large fish, Fathom magazine Valerie Taylor with shark, Fathom magazine

Jules' Undersea Lodge


Two divers exchanging glances with guest at Jules' Undersea Lodge

From the Depths...Life.

When guests visit Jules' Undersea Lodge in Key Largo, Florida, they discover that the name is no marketing gimmick. Just to enter the Lodge, one must actually scuba dive 21 feet beneath the surface of the sea. Jules' really is underwater. Diving through the tropical mangrove habitat of the Emerald Lagoon and approaching the world's only underwater hotel is quite an experience. Even from the outside, Jules' big 42 inch round windows cast a warm invitation to come in and stay a while, relax and get to know the underwater world that so few of us have even visited.

Entering through an opening in the bottom of the habitat, the feeling is much like discovering a secret underwater clubhouse. The cottage sized building isn't short on creature comforts: hot showers, a well stocked kitchen (complete with refrigerator and microwave), books, music, and video movies. And of course there are cozy beds, where guests snuggle up and watch the fish visit the windows of their favorite underwater "terrarium". Jules' Undersea Lodge manages to reach a perfect balance of relaxation and adventure.

Guests sometimes describe their visit to inner space as the most incredible experience of their lives. One couple decided on a career change after visiting Jules' Undersea Lodge, and they now operate Aquanauts' Dive Shop. Another couple named their baby after Jules', when they later discovered their recently conceived child had accompanied them in their wonderful adventure in undersea living.

MarineLab observation bubble at Jules' Undersea Lodge

Although the underwater hotel may sound like the latest tourist fun spot, Jules' Undersea Lodge, actually began its existence as La Chalupa research laboratory, an underwater habitat used to explore the continental shelf off the coast of Puerto Rico. The authenticity of the underwater habitat is what really sets it apart from amusement parks and other similar attractions. The mangrove lagoon in which Jules' is located is a natural nursery area for many reef fish. Tropical angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and snappers peek in the windows of the habitat, while anemones, sponges, oysters and feather duster worms seem to cover every inch of this underwater world. Guests of the Lodge explore their marine environment with scuba gear provided by Jules' Undersea Lodge and are given an unlimited supply of tanks. Jules' Undersea Lodge may have a comfortable futuristic decor, but its sense of history is inescapable. It is the first and only underwater hotel, but is also the first underwater research lab to have ever been made accessible to the average person.

"Marine life is actually enhanced by the presence of an underwater structure", explains Ian Koblick, owner and co-developer of the Lodge. "Jules' Undersea Lodge serves as an artificial reef, providing shelter and substrate for marine animals. And the flow of air to the Lodge constantly adds oxygen to the entire surrounding body of water, creating a symbiotic relationship between the technology of man and the beauty of nature."

The entire structure of Jules' Undersea Lodge is underwater, sitting up on legs approximately five feet off the bottom of the protected lagoon. The Lodge is filled with compressed air, which prevents the water from rising and flooding the rooms. A five by seven foot "moon pool" entrance in the floor of the building makes entering the hotel much like surfacing through a small swimming pool. Divers find themselves in the wet room, the center of three compartments that make up the underwater living quarters. The wet room, as the name implies, is where divers leave their gear, enjoy a quick hot shower and towel-off before entering the rest of the living area. Designed for comfort, the air conditioned living space has two private bed rooms and a common room. The eight by twenty foot common room is a multi-purpose room providing the galley, dining and entertainment areas. Each of the bedrooms and the common room is equipped with telephone, intercom, VCR/DVD and our latest addition of the, "i home", so you can enjoy your own choice of music from home. But the main focus of attention is the big 42 inch round window that graces each room. "Waking up to view a pair of angelfish looking in your bedroom window is a moment you'll never forget", states Koblick.

Habitat operations are monitored by the Mission Director from the land-based "Command Center", located at the edge of the Emerald Lagoon. The control center is connected to Jules' Undersea Lodge by an umbilical cable which delivers fresh air, water, power, and communications. "The entire facility is monitored 24 hours a day by our staff", says Koblick, "the Lodge has independent support systems as well as redundant backup systems. We've taken every step to ensure a safe yet exciting adventure for our guests".

Illustration of Jules' Undersea Lodge

Credit for developing this venture must go to both Neil Monney and Ian Koblick. With over 50 years of combined ocean research and industry experience the two principal developers named their undersea retreat in honor of Jules Verne, author of "Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea". Jules' Undersea Lodge is a tribute to the human quest for exploration and adventure. In the Early 70's, lan Koblick, president of Marine Resources Development Foundation, developed and operated La Chalupa research laboratory, which was the largest and most technologically advanced underwater habitat of its time. Koblick , who has continued his work as a pioneer in developing advanced undersea programs for ocean science and education, as the co-author of the book "Living and Working in the Sea", is considered one of the foremost authorities on undersea habitation. Co-developer Neil Monney formerly served as Professor and Director of Ocean Engineering at the US Naval Academy. Monney has extensive experience as a research scientist, aquanaut, and designer of underwater habitats. Together, the two men have developed and managed undersea habitats that have produced more aquanauts than all of the other undersea habitats in the world combined. Their combined expertise is evident in the careful attention to detail in Jules' Undersea Lodge.

Jules' Undersea Lodge is a dream come true for dive enthusiasts who are looking to log a seemingly limitless dive. Guests who complete one of the luxury packages can log 22 hours in one night, and there is no limit to the number of nights they can stay. Even at 21 feet, dive times like these are not covered by the dive tables. Guests actually complete a "saturation" dive, which permits divers to spend extended time underwater as long as proper surfacing intervals are followed. For the shallow water saturation dives of Jules' Undersea Lodge, guests are required to abstain from flying and must adhere to restrictions on further diving for 24 hours after they surface. Some packages at Jules' offer the opportunity to earn an Aquanaut Certificate, which qualifies certified divers for an optional Underwater Habitat / Aquanaut dive specialty certification.

Although the experience of a habitat saturation dive is definitely high tech diving, even guests who have never scuba dived before can stay in Jules' Undersea Lodge. A pleasant three hour class acquaints non-certified divers with the equipment and simple procedures necessary to comfortably dive in the company of the Lodge's dive instructors. The Lodge also offers complete dive certification in just three days, as well as a full complement of advanced and specialty dive training. Both certified and non-certified divers enjoy their exploration of the Emerald Lagoon. Since the mangrove habitat is a nursery area for many reef fish, divers see juvenile fish and invertebrate animals that are not normally seen on the reef. It is an excellent opportunity for divers to explore the diversity and inter-relationship of habitats and to gain an understanding of why it is important to protect our natural mangrove shorelines. Divers also see some amazing technology in the lagoon, including Marine Lab, an underwater laboratory devoted exclusively to research and education. A recreation of a Spanish galleon wreck provides a wonderful opportunity to study the techniques of marine archaeology. The wreck site is a replica of the San Pedro, set up by world renowned archaeologist R. Duncan Matthewson, III, who was instrumental in locating the famous wreck of the Atocha.

On an average evening Jules' Undersea Lodge is shared by two different couples, but it can accommodate a group of six friends in the gracious living quarters designed by the award winning firm of Richard F. Geary Interior Designers. Exclusive use of the hotel can also be arranged for couples who want to be the only lovers in the world spending the night alone in inner space - a pretty romantic thought. The Lodge is even available for underwater weddings, with a wedding package that includes flowers and the world's only underwater wedding cake. The unique setting is perfect for couples who plan to start their married life with a touch of the outrageous, but still enjoy traditional sentiments.

Guests of the Lodge have included many celebrities, including former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau; rock stars Steve Tyler of "Aerosmith" and Jon Fishman of Phish.

The staff of Jules' Undersea Lodge remains on duty 24 hours a day to provide whatever services the quests may need. The Lodge's luxury packages include the services of a "mer-chef" who scuba dives down to the hotel to prepare and serve a gourmet dinner for the guests. Birthday or anniversary celebrations often include surprise bouquets of flowers and cakes. Late night snacks can even include the underwater delivery of a pizza from a local shop.

Larger underwater lodges are on the drawing board for the future. "We have been approached by developers from around the world. The basic design has been completed-- future hotels will feature an original design using concrete and acrylic--they will be substantially larger and provide even more gracious comfort with spectacular views through six-foot diameter windows", says Dr. Monney. "To live beneath the sea was once just the dream of science fiction writers…Now it is a reality. Here is a new step for mankind, the advent of undersea living, the taming of the last frontier on Earth…Inner Space".

With pride, the developers invite the world to visit--to really live beneath the surface of the ocean at Jules' Undersea Lodge.

Neptune Memorial Reef


Lion column at Neptune Memorial Reef. Photo by Todd Essick
Lion column at Neptune Memorial Reef. Photo by Todd Essick

From the Depths...Life.

Located 3.25 miles east of Key Biscayne in Miami, Florida – GPS coordinates N25º 42.036', W80º 05.409' – Neptune Memorial ReefTM is the largest man-made reef ever conceived and, when complete, will have transformed over 16 acres of barren ocean floor. The Neptune Memorial Reef project is environmentally sound and meets the strict guidelines and permitting of the EPA, DERM, NOAA, Florida Fish and Wildlife and the Army Corps of Engineers. And the Neptune Memorial Reef is also a member of the Green Burial Council.

Our completed first phase is a classical re-creation of the Lost City, 40 feet under the sea. These structures have produced a marine habitat to promote coral and marine organism's growth while creating the ultimate 'Green Burial' opportunity. A recent marine study conducted by the Department of Environmental Resource Management concluded that marine life around the Reef has gone from the zero to thousands in two years.

In addition to providing a permanent legacy for those who loved the ocean, the Neptune Memorial Reef is attracting recreational scuba divers, marine biologists, students, researchers and ecologists from all over the world. The Reef is free and accessible to all visitors.

A new tradition of visiting loved ones.

Boat activity at the site is brisk, with families chartering boats or taking their own to snorkel or simply be at the site. Some family members actually become dive certified, enabling them to visit the site, to see their loved ones and monitor the Reef's growth.

Many of our local families dive the reef on a regular basis to visit their loved ones, one family in particular has been out 5 times in as many months.


Step 1: Pouring cement placement into mold. Cremated remains are carefully mixed with non-porous cement, sand and water.

Step 2: The mixture is then placed into a mold of the customer's choice then stored to solidify.

Step 3: Removing placement from mold.

Neptune Memorial Reef ceremony

Step 4: On the day of placement our experienced team of divers take the formed mold by boat to the reef, carefully completing the process by inserting it into its final location within the reef structure. This can be done with or without the family's participation.

Step 5: Placement of plaque on column. Once hardened a bronze plaque with the name and life dates is fixed to the outside.


"Mom was thrilled with the idea of becoming part of the Memorial Reef and forever swimming with dolphins."

"She believed this option was the perfect continuum in which she could enjoy the undersea world she so loved. In her final days, she was inspired by the images of the Reef's abundant life and tranquility. She envisioned her family, together, enjoying the ocean's wonders on her behalf.

An active, vibrant lady, Edie relished all water-sports. She accepted her passing with dignity and bragged that she would be forever living on ocean waterfront property. Her epitaph reads, "In Care of Dolphins and Angels."

- Ronald Hink

The Big Blue

by Christopher Hicks, from The Deseret News, August 19, 1988

Jean-Marc Barr with dolphin from The Big Blue, 1988

The Big Blue - ** - Rosanna Arquette, Jean-Marc Barr, Jean Reno; rated PG (sex, partial nudity, profanity); Cineplex Odeon Centre Theater, Cineplex Odeon Midvalley Cinemas, Mann Creekside Plaza, Mann 6 Plaza.

As you might suspect, the title "The Big Blue" refers to the ocean and if you've seen the ads you know this is the story of a young diver who feels more at home in the sea with dolphins than on land with humans -- even when he falls in love with Rosanna Arquette.

Ordinarily that might be difficult to swallow -- after all, who wouldn't fall in love with the charming Rosanna Arquette of "Baby, It's You," "Desperately Seeking Susan," or "Silverado". Dolphins are cute but c'mon.

The Rosanna Arquette of ""The Big Blue," however is a little too desperate, a little too skittish and far too silly for the hero of this picture. In fact, every time she comes on the screen it's hard not to wonder whether she knows what movie she's in.

That's not completely Arquette's fault since her role as a ditsy insurance investigator who falls for this ethereal diver and follows him halfway around the world is very badly written and directed. It's hard to imagine any reason other than a badly planned commercial gesture for Arquette's character to be in this picture.

Especially since writer-director Luc Besson aims for a completely different tone with all of the film except her scenes - an artistic, mystical and mysterious tone that he achieves to some degree.

The other performances by Jean-Marc Barr in the lead and especially Jean Reno as Barr's best friend/chief rival are low-key, illuminating and absolutely correct.

From the early black-and-white flashback scenes that set up the two main characters to the film;s final sequence, "The Big Blue" is about people who not only feel a kinship with the sea but who begin to almost become living non-air breathing parts of it.

The film has Jacques (Barr) and Enzo (Reno) as childhood rivals who as adults find themselves competing in an international diving competition. But we're not talking diving bells or snorkels here - these guys dive hundreds of feet underwater just holding their breath for as long as possible.

It's a fascinating idea for a movie - inspired by the real-life diving exploits of Jacques Mayol - and much of the film is equally fascinating with a great deal of startlingly beautiful underwater photography. But too often the film sifts to that romantic subplot between Arquette and Barr and it all falls apart (And it is a subplot despite Arquette's top billing).

Add to that too many elongated scenes that are, pardon the pun, dead in the water and "The Big Blue" too often becomes "The Big Bore," a sad misfire that had wonderful potential.

"The Big Blue" is rated PG, but is a tad racy for that rating with a sex scene , some partial nudity and a couple of profanities.

Jean-Marc Barr and Rosanna Arquette from The Big Blue, 1988

Jean-Marc Barr says he obtained the lead role in "the Big Blue" after writer-director Luc Besson had looked at many other actors.

"Besson was casting all over the world asking for a good looking guy, a good actor who was willing to dive to 220 feet. But he didn't say that when I met him. He just asked if I liked the sea."

Barr speaking by telephone from Denver, was on a U.S. publicity tour with co-star Marc Duret for the French-made film, which was premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in May.

"Cannes was the first showing and it got a 15-minute standing ovation."

Though Barr is largely unknown in this country, he had a part in "Hope and Glory," the John Boorman film that received a best picture Oscar nomination.

But "The Big Blue" is unlike any acting assignment Barr had ever heard of, requiring a great deal of underwater diving without benefit of breathing devices. "We had stuntmen just like in any movie, but I lived this part for nine months and we would practice holding our breath for as long as we could. Besson would tell us we had to hold our breath underwater for 3 minutes. It was really only 2 minutes usually."

The film's European run has been quite encouraging. Barr said so that it's American distributor is opening "The Big Blue" in more than 1400 theaters across the country Friday.

Marc Duret and Jean Reno from The Big Blue, 1988

The success of "The Big Blue" in France and Switzerland has been amazing. Besson is going to release the 3 1/2-hour version in France. "We had four hours of film and cut it down to two hours, but there are people who have seen it three or four times in France and they want the longer original film."

"Most films wash over you and don't ask you to think but this film asks the spectator to participate."

Barr's participation helped him gain new respect for the mysterious beauty of the ocean. "It's not hard to catch the fever of it. everyone has this feeling about the sea. It was very profound for me. The film says it all."

"It's a very spiritual preparation to dive. You ask the sea to take you - 'Please take me, take me again' - and you decompress the air pressure every 2 seconds going down a yard a second. And when you hit bottom it's incredible. there is no security. You're in front o the blue, seduced by the whole freedom. It is so seductive that you have to tell yourself to go back up."

Marc Duret says he was in Los Angeles when he first heard of "The Big Blue."

"When I went back to Paris I became aware of the Roberto character (younger brother to Enzo, played by Jean Reno). So I called up and had an appointment with Reno and we met and felt good together.

"I did a couple of screen tests before I got the part. he important thing Luc wanted was to have a great family. the good thing we achieved was to make people believe we were brothers. Enzo and me."

Kathryn McPhee


Underwater Challange

The Last Dive of David Shaw

from David Shaw's home page:

View from inside Boesmansgat (Bushman's Hole), South Africa.
View from inside Boesmansgat (Bushman's Hole), South Africa.

Boesmansgat 270m Attempted Body Recovery

This page is dedicated to Deon Dreyer, who lost his life 10 years ago on a diving trip at Boesmansgat in Southern Africa. During a recent dive in October 2004, David Shaw found Deon's remains at 270 meters. He attempted to lift Deon, but it seemed his cylinders were firmly stuck in the mud. David tied a line to him so that he could be found again.

In early January 2005, a voluntary team of 8 rebreather divers and their support team of rescuers and chamber attendants will attempt to recover Deon. This page will be updated with the days preceding the actual recovery attempt dive, and of course log the recovery dive as well. Please bookmark it for further visits.

D-Day minus 4 Weeks

Planning is of course very important, and David and Don have been very busy coordinating all involved. Pre-planning consisted of arrangements for gasses, chambers, and rescue teams - mostly in case of an emergency. Planning for recording the dive was also made, as well as planning on the forensic police's side.

As all divers are on rebreathers, actual gas planning was much less than were they on open circuit. As the divers were spread all over the world, it did not make planning any easier. We have David in Hong Kong, Gerhard in Saudi Arabia, Dusan, Mark, Derek, and Stephen in Johannesburg, Peter in Pretoria, the rescue team in Lydenburg, the police divers in Cape Town and Upington, and Don in Badplaas trying to co-ordinate them all!

A whopping 50 x 50-liter helium and 15 x 50l oxygen cylinders had to be arranged - in case chamber operations became necessary. Gas planning for the dive is as follows:

A total of 28 bailout cylinders and regulators will be staged at various depths. All hopefully will not be needed. Letters to various authorities were written to inform them of procedures, and to arrange staff members leave from their normal duties.

Pre-gas pumping of bailout cylinders at Dive Centre. Dive team to do practice skill in anticipation of big dive. Meetings between dive team, and rescue team police and chamber operators.

Dr. Jack Meintjies and Don Shirley discuss the medical logistics of emergencies on site and who will be bringing what equipment, as there will be 3 medical teams on site. They also discuss diver medicals and the fact that all divers are PFO (Patent Foramen Ovale) free. Depths of each diver were discussed. The depth, OTU and CNS percentages were also under the spotlight.

Dusan and Mark have been diving over the last week. Diving was done in the 100 to 180 meter zones.

D-Day minus 09

Peter, Steven and Lo carry out a dive to 120m in the caves. This is a much more complicated dive than Boesmansgat, as it involves moving horizontally at 18m for 10 minutes, then a 106m drop, and a 4 minute swim before the actual swim down the shaft to 120m. The dive time was 4 hours and 30 minutes. Gerhard arrives in South Africa from Saudi Arabia.

D-Day minus 08

Don spent the day doing final gas fills and checking equipment, loading some of the gar. David's last day to pack his gear in Hong Kong.

D-Day minus 07

David spends the day in the air - flying his Airbus. As soon as he's done, he will get on the next flight to Johannesburg.

D-Day minus 06

David arrives in South Africa. David and Don do a final test at 10 meters on the procedures of cutting loose diver's gear, and putting him in a body bag. Don is the "body". The attempt goes very well, with the cutters working like a dream, and the specially designed silk body bag working like a charm. All pleased with the test run.

Gerhard does some preparation dives in South Africa. He's done a few dives in the 110-meter range in Saudi's nice warmer waters as well.

D-Day minus 05

Dive Team, Rescue team, Chamber with team and gas arrival at Boesmansgat in the Northern Cape. All arrive from all corners of the universe - Cape Town, Orange Free State, Mpumalanga, Gauteng. And of course Saudi Arabia and Hong Kong.

Water surface is cleared of weeds & plankton. Unload the many many pieces of equipment, and worse, carry them down the 50 or so meters to the water's edge. The Police team volunteer and help carry it to water's edge. Thank goodness for many hands! Rescue team start putting up the rope work to evacuate any injured divers. First batch of cylinders in water. Mixing of 50/50 heliox for chamber (in case of emergency) starts in early afternoon and is completed at about 24h00.

D-Day minus 04

The Mobikwa Proto rescue team setting up final bits of rope and pulley systems to winch most of it down.

Set up dive one: Sorting out of the winch drums on the inside of the cave roof. Ropes that will hold bailout cylinders re-arranged and sorted out. A few minor hiccups on two of the rebreathers were sorted out as well and all rebreathers are up and running smoothly. As only half of the team is really needed, should one of the rebreathers not work, there will be more than enough other team members to complete the dive safely.

D-Day minus 03

Set-up dive two: Dive team full rehearsal in water. As each support diver has to meet the deeper diver at a certain depth and within seconds of a predetermined time, this was practiced. The balance of the bailout cylinders were also placed on the shot line every 50 meters up to 150 meters deep. All team members were satisfied with the procedures, and are anticipating a good dive.

D-Day minus02

No dive day for divers that are going beyond 100 meters.

D-Day minus 01

No dive day for all. Final preparations taking place.

Friday 07Jan05 there will be a press day from 09h00 to 13h00. It will include a demonstration of the rescue team's rope work to evacuate injured divers, and a brief and show on the equipment and chamber on site. Please note no press will be allowed on site except for this time. A further press day will be announced for after the 270 meter dive.


First attempt of recovery.

D-Day plus 01

Removal of remaining bail-out cylinders

D-Day plus 02

Final batch of cylinders removed from water. Clearing of site - removal of equipment back up cliffs.

Last Dive

from Wikipedia, September 7, 2010

David Shaw died on 8 January 2005 whilst seeking to recover the body of Deon Dreyer, a South African diver who had himself died 10 years previously, and whose body Shaw had discovered at a depth of 270 metres (890 ft) of fresh water in Bushman's Hole, South Africa in October 2004.

Shaw recorded his dive with an underwater camera and this recording relayed valuable information that allowed researchers to determine that he suffered from an effort-independent expiratory flow which resulted in an inability to match ventilation to the demands of physical work at that great depth. Shaw ran into difficulties when he cut loose Dreyer's harness and the body unexpectedly began to float (Shaw had been advised by various experts that the body would remain negatively buoyant because the visible parts were reduced to the skeleton - however, within his wetsuit, Dreyer's corpse had turned into a soap-like substance called adipocere, which floats). Shaw had been working with both hands, and so had been resting his cable light on the cave floor. Normally he would have wrapped the cable around his neck, but he had been unable to do so due to the helmet he wore with the camera. The lines from the body bag appear to have gotten tangled with the cable light, and the physical effort of trying to free himself led to Shaw's expiring. The next day, both of the bodies floated up to near the surface as the dive team was retrieving their equipment.

The dive which David Shaw died on was the 333rd of his career. At the time of his world record setting dive, he had been diving for just over 5 years.

Valerie Taylor scuba diving. Photo by Ron Taylor, 1965